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Best Practice Tips: Feedback from Law Firm Clients

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the owner of a four-attorney estate planning firm in Charleston, West Virginia. I spend the majority of my time managing and developing the business, and very little time servicing clients. This has been intentional as I enjoy the business aspects of the practice more than providing legal services. I conduct comprehensive written and face-to-face performance reviews with my associates annually and in real time as needed. While the performance reviews include a performance rating category for client satisfaction, I have no real way of determining client satisfaction. Do you have any thoughts on how to measure this?

A. Much can be learned by soliciting feedback from your clients. Structured telephone interviews and other forms of surveys conducted by a neutral third party can provide many surprises, as well as answers. Client satisfaction surveys can be the best marketing investment you can make. In addition, client satisfaction surveys can be used to quantify client satisfaction with individual attorneys in your firm.

Our law firm clients have found their clients to be impressed that the firms care about their opinions. Understanding what bugs people about your services and those of your competition can be incredibly valuable for strategy development.

Many of our law firm clients that represent individual clients use a short two-page survey that is mailed or provided online at the conclusion of a matter. The survey poses a series of specific questions that address performance in several categories and rates performance on a graded scale. The survey also includes an area for comments. Paper surveys are compiled in spreadsheets with running scores for the firm and individual attorneys.

If you use a paper survey, I suggest that you:

  • Send a cover letter with the survey, as well as a postage-paid return envelope.
  • Thank the client for their business.
  • Ask them to think of you again when they have future needs.
  • Ask them to refer business to you.
  • Ask them to complete the survey and return to your office.

Another approach is to use an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey. Client feedback would automatically be compiled and would save you the cost and effort of mailing surveys and compiling the information.

Click here for our blog on client service
Click here for our article on client satisfaction
Click here for our article on client surveys 
Click here for our article on analyzing survey results
Click here for our blog on human resources
Click here for our articles on other topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on November 21, 2018 by Rhys Saunders
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